What Is Hyperhidrosis?

Here’s the quick definition; scroll down for a more complete explanation.

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. It affects five percent of the global population – that’s 367 million people! It most often occurs on the hands and feet. In people with hyperhidrosis, the body overreacts to stimuli and causes the sweat glands to be overactive, kind of like a faucet that won’t turn off.

Many people with this condition don’t realize they have it, or that it even has a recognized medical name. Why? Because there is a lot of shame and embarrassment involved; patients don’t speak up or think it’s a serious enough problem to even mention, so the amount of information out there isn’t to the level it should be like it is for more mainstream medical conditions. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed of your medical condition. There is hope for hyperhidrosis.

About Me

My Life as a Puddle

Maria, Founder of My Life as a Puddle and
Brand Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine

I’m a passionate writer, editor, and hyperhidrosis survivor.  I’ve lived with hyperhidrosis all of my life and offer a unique perspective on a condition that can be mentally, socially, and professionally debilitating. Yet I shine on, knowing there is a deeper purpose to my life that involves being exactly who I am. Through my blog I am creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time, living my truth, and making others feel like they are not alone. My story is your story.

With 17 years’ experience working in the health care field as a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT), medical editor, medical writing web specialist, and communications coordinator, I have a vast knowledge of both Eastern and Western medicine and how these modalities can contribute to the treatment of hyperhidrosis.

Having tried nearly every known treatment  to cure my hyperhidrosis, I’ve learned that it may not be what you put into your body so much as the thoughts you allow into your mind that can improve the quality of your life.

It is my passion for the written word that has truly allowed me to transcend my condition and bring fellow sufferers tips for, and triumphs over, hyperhidrosis.

I encourage others to let their sweating angst out by talking about it, writing about it, feeling it, and then letting it go. The truth will set you free. Stop hiding from hyperhidrosis. You don’t become who you are because of what you tell the universe you DON’T want. You become who you were meant to be by telling the universe what you DO want and by living authentically in the direction of your dreams. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. There is hope for people who have hyperhidrosis.

Complete Definition of HH1

In some people, the body’s mechanism for cooling itself is overactive—so overactive that they may sweat four or five times more than is necessary, or normal. When sweating is this extreme it can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing, and disabling. It can disrupt all aspects of a person’s life, from career choices and recreational activities to relationships, emotional well-being, and self-image.

This kind of excessive sweating is a serious medical condition. It’s called hyperhidrosis and it afflicts millions of people around the world (approximately 5% of the global population – that’s 367 million people) but because of lack of awareness, more than half of these people are never diagnosed or treated for their symptoms.

Sweat is essential to human survival and serves as the body’s coolant, protecting it from overheating.

There are two to four million sweat glands distributed all over our bodies. The majority of them are “eccrine” sweat glands, which are found in large numbers on the soles of the feet, the palms, the forehead and cheeks, and in the armpits.

Eccrine glands secrete an odorless, clear fluid that helps the body to control its temperature by promoting heat loss through evaporation. In general, the type of sweat involved in hyperhidrosis is eccrine sweat.

The other type of sweat gland is called an “apocrine” gland. Apocrine glands are found in the armpits and genital region. They produce a thick fluid. When this fluid comes in contact with bacteria on the skin’s surface, it produces a characteristic potent “body odor”.

Both the eccrine and apocrine sweat glands are activated by nerves. These nerves respond to a variety of stimuli including:

  • messages from the brain indicating that the body is too hot
  • hormones
  • emotions
  • physical activity or exercise.

In people who have excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, the sweat glands (eccrine glands in particular) overreact to stimuli and are just generally overactive, producing more sweat than is necessary. It’s often said that people with hyperhidrosis have sweat glands that are stuck in the “on” position.

  1. The International Hyperhidrosis Society. www.sweathelp.org. Accessed June 11, 2017.

(This blog, its corresponding social media pages, and any information discussed herein is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. When seeking treatment, all decisions should be discussed with a licensed health care professional. The author does not assume any liability or responsibility for the decisions made by those who might read this blog.)

Unless otherwise cited, all material on this blog is the original work of the blog owner. Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle


  1. Hi Maria,

    I did not get a chance to meet you today at the DWPC, but was curious about your blog when Kim mentioned it. How interesting–I too have hyperhidrosis! It’s a strange and inconvenient issue to live with isn’t it? I recall that several years ago I saw my jr. high boyfriend and after we caught up on things he asked if I was still sweaty! A mix of humor and humiliation.

    Best of luck with your writing. I was one of the non-fiction judges and really enjoyed your piece.

  2. Hi MIndy,

    Just wanted to drop a note to say that your blog is awesome, and perhaps one of the best ones out there on this topic. People like you are making HH less of a taboo and my congratulations in achieving what you are with this blog.

    Keep it up please!

    I am inspired by people like you, and trying to do my bit at my Hyperhidrosis Network.. swing around sometime and let me know if you’d like to write a post for us.


  3. Hi Maria.

    (Apologies, mistyped your name in my earlier post).

    Just wanted to drop a note to say that your blog is awesome, and perhaps one of the best ones out there on this topic. People like you are making HH less of a taboo and my congratulations in achieving what you are with this blog.

    Keep it up please!

    I am inspired by people like you, and trying to do my bit at my Hyperhidrosis Network.. swing around sometime and let me know if you’d like to write a post for us.



  4. Hi,

    I stumbled across your blog while looking for HH-friendly products and love it so far! I’ve always felt very alone in my HH (hands and feet) and I have only ever met one person in my life who has had it (or at least, who admitted to having it). I definitely feel a little less alone now.

    Quick question–I see that you’ve had the Botox treatment and had good results. I almost got the same treatment, but the dermatologist said it might decrease dexterity in my thumbs. I opted out for this reason (I figure finger dexterity is more important than eliminating sweat…). Did you experience any dexterity issues when you had it?

    • Hi Liz,

      I had some soreness the first few days after I had Botox, which then progressed to some numbness and tingling, especially in my pinkies. Opening car doors and turning the key in the ignition were difficult those first few days. It was kind of scary, and I couldn’t get the pins and needles feeling to go away for awhile. I was wringing and shaking my hands out, and it still wouldn’t go away. It eventually did after a few days, but it was definitely scary initially.

      Here’s my post with picures of the Botox adventure: http://mylifeasapuddle.com/my-botox-adventure.html

  5. Hey Maria!
    Thanks for taking the time to build out this site and provide such a strong foundation for hyperhidrosis. Your site not only helps generate awareness for the condition, but helps to educate others.

    I really appreciate all the time and energy you’ve put in to the site!

  6. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog–looking for yoga socks for my sweaty feet! I have suffered from palmar HH for my whole life. I had a consult with a thoracic surgeon two years ago for the sympathectomy procedure. He first prescribed glycopyrrolate to try in the mean time before scheduling the procedure. I am so lucky that this medication actually works well for me, and have yet to schedule this highly invasive procedure. I am a 185lb male and only take 2mg’s in the morning, which is a relatively small dose. I too work in healthcare and with this medication I can now actually put on a pair of latex or nitrile gloves in under a minute. Without the medication, this is can be almost impossible. My only side effect with the medication is dry mouth, which is fairly manageable. As long as I don’t drink too much coffee/caffeine, the medication works fairly well. Some days I don’t take it just to see if I will sweat, I do. It works way better on my hands than my feet. Anyway, I wanted to share my good fortune with this medication and to encourage your readers to ask their doctor about it. I am so much more confident in social situations now, and my anxiety about my sweating is probably reduced by about 80%. Glad to have found some of the fellow 3%, maybe we should all play the lottery together, ha!!

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